Leading Health Issues for Men

“The world’s biggest killer is ischemic heart disease, responsible for 16% of the world’s total deaths. Since 2000, the largest increase in deaths has been for this disease, rising by more than 2 million to 8.9 million deaths in 2019. Stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are the 2nd and 3rd leading causes of death, responsible for approximately 11% and 6% of total deaths, respectively”—World Health Organization.
As a matter of fact, these are diseases that affect men more than women. For instance, a study, “Cardiovascular disease trends in Nepal – An analysis of global burden of disease data 2017”, concluded that, “In 2017, the CVD mortality rates among males was estimated to be 230.7 and among females it was 104.3.”


Cardiovascular Disease

The above-mentioned study also found that, in 2017, CVDs contributed to 26•9% of total deaths in Nepal, with ischemic heart disease being the predominant CVD, and with the burden greater among males and among older age groups. High systolic BP, high LDL, smoking, air pollution, a diet low in whole grains and fruit were said to be the major risk factors. The study also stated, “In all age groups, the CVD mortality rate was higher among males compared to females, with the greatest difference in the 60–64 years age group (953.1 per 100,000 for male vs. 374.0 per 100,000 for female).”

Globally, CVDs are the leading cause of death, with an estimated 17.9 million people dying from CVDs in 2019, according to the WHO, of which 85% were due to heart attack and stroke. CVDs include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism, with the main lifestyle risk factors of heart disease and stroke being physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, smoking, and excessive drinking.

Respiratory Disease

Respiratory illnesses and diseases include asthma, COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis/bronchiectasis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and pleural effusion. The WHO ranks COPD as the 3rd leading cause of death, followed by lower respiratory infections, which is said to be “the world’s most deadly communicable disease.” According to the American Lung Association, there is an increase in lung cancer cases year after year, with smoking being the main cause of lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases, besides occupational hazards like exposure to asbestos. Tuberculosis, a bacterial disease that most commonly infects the lungs, resulted in 1.5 million deaths due to single infective causative agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in 2018 (Clinic One, https://www.clinicone.com.np/top-8-respiratory-diseases/).

A 2018 study, “Burden of COPD in Nepal” states that some studies have reported the prevalence of COPD ranging from 23% to 43%, and that “960,737 Nepalese suffered from COPD in 2016, which is twice the number of sufferers in 1990. The age-standardized prevalence rate of COPD has remained almost stagnant (4,899.1 per 100,000 population in 1990 vs. 4,810.3 per 100,000 in 2016) over 26 years, with continued higher prevalence among Nepalese males than females.”

 Prostate Cancer

It is the most common type of cancer in men, and the second leading cancer death for men. More than 75% cases of all prostate cancers occur in males more than 60 years age, and there is an increasing trend in Asian countries in the last 25 years. It manifests as painful urination, interrupted flow of urine, blood in the urine, and/or pain in the lower back. Studies have found that adenocarcinoma constitutes more than 90% of all prostatic cancer cases.
Regular checkup is the best way to diagnose the disease in the early stage, and it is very treatable if discovered early. Men with prostate symptoms usually undergo PSA testing, along with a digital rectum exam (DRE) to determine the nature of the problem. The PSA test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or any combination of these treatments.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a common health problem, particularly for diabetics and those with prostate issues, and it could be due to both physical and psychological reasons, some common physical ones being: heart disease, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, treatment for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate, some prescription medicines, obesity, alcoholism, low testosterone, metabolic syndrome, multiple sclerosis, etc. Problems getting or keeping an erection can also a risk factor for heart disease or an underlying health condition that needs to be treated. Psychologically, some issues that can interfere with sexual feelings and cause erectile dysfunction are: depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, stress, and relationship problems. Excessive drinking also interferes with testicular function and hormone production.

Alcohol Use

Men are much more likely to experience alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. There is greater risk of liver diseases like cirrhosis and alcoholic liver due to higher levels of alcohol and tobacco use. Cirrhosis is a late stage of scarring of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, including chronic alcoholism. Excessive alcohol consumption, being overweight, and viral hepatitis are major risk factors for cirrhosis.


Depression is caused by a combination of risk factors, including: genetic factors (family history of depression), environmental stress (financial problems, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, major life changes, work problems, etc.); and illness (serious medical illnesses like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or Parkinson’s disease). Depression is felt differently by men than women, with symptoms of feeling sad (or “empty”), irritable, angry, hopeless, or anxious. Depression also manifests as loss of interest in work, family, or other interests (including sex). A man must have symptoms for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression). Men are less likely than women to talk about and seek treatment, and some men may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their emotional symptoms.


A man is more likely to get type 2 diabetes at a lower weight than women, one of the reasons being that men store more fat in their bellies, which is a known risk factor. In addition, in comparison to women, more men have undiagnosed diabetes, and while diabetes increases the risks for heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney failure, etc. in both men and women, some diabetes problems hit are more specific for men. Diabetes lowers testosterone levels, which increases the risk for sexual impotence, leading to depression and anxiety.

Skin Cancer

By age 50, men are also more likely than women to develop melanoma, and by age 65, men are two times as likely as women of the same age to get melanoma. What’s more, by age 80, men are three times more likely than women in the same age group to develop melanoma. No matter what age, men are more likely to die of melanoma than women. Researchers believe that men have thicker skin with less fat beneath, and containing more collagen and elastin, fibers that give the skin firmness. These differences make men’s skin more likely to be damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays, and research also shows that a women’s skin may be better at repairing damage due to UV rays. Sun protection can reduce the risk of getting melanoma, and skin self-exams and skin cancer screenings can help early detection of melanoma, when it is highly treatable.

Influenza and Pneumonia

Men’s health issues like COPD, diabetes, AIDS, and cancer, make them more susceptible to influenza and pneumonia. The pneumonia and influenza mortality rate is much higher for those aged 65 years and older, with about 85 percent of all pneumonia and influenza deaths occurring in this age group. Those with chronic lung diseases like asthma and COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, are at higher risk from complications of influenza infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all adults ages 65 and older, as well as other groups at high risk.

Unintentional Injuries and Accidents

Men are about twice as likely as women to die from an unintentional injury and accidents— overdose, motor vehicle accidents, and falls being the most common causes of fatal injuries. In 2016, unintentional injuries ranked just behind heart disease and cancer as the third most common cause of death in men above 20 years of age,

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